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The Power Report: Sumire stars in the Chinese Women’s B League; Korea does well in Go Seigen Cup; Iyama starts badly in Chinese A Team League

Sunday September 25, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Sumire stars in the Chinese Women’s B League

The much-delayed 2021 edition of the Chinese Women’s B League Team tournament was held in Fuzhou City in Fujian Province from August 9 to 16. The three-player teams represent different areas of China, and a match was played every day, with just the third day off as a rest day. Two players from Japan, Nyu Eiko 4-dan and Nakamura Sumire 2-dan, took part, playing their games on the net. Nyu, who was on a Hubei team, made a bad start, losing her first three games, but she recovered to win the next three. She lost her final game, however, so she ended up with a minus record of 3-4. In contrast, Sumire had an excellent tournament, playing on a Fujian team and scoring 5-2 and helping her team to win promotion into the A League. Both served as captains of their teams, but I am afraid I do not know how to render the team names in English. Sumire’s best performance was in the last game; the match was tied 1-1, so her result would decide whether her team went up or not. Sumire demonstrated a good understanding of the Chinese rules, in which victory goes to the player with more stones surviving on the board. She worked out that if she played the “natural” move according to the Japanese rules, she would lose, so she tried to find a sequence that secured a half-point victory by the Chinese rules. Actually, her opponent, Kim Dayong of Korea, made a mistake, so Sumire won by half a point. Playing the way she did gave her opponent the opportunity to make this mistake. Ko Reibun 7-dan, who was acting as referee at the Japanese site, commented: “You can only call this a miracle.”

Korea does well in Go Seigen Cup

The opening rounds of the 5th Go Seigen Cup World Women’s Go Championship were held from July 30 to August 1. This is a Chinese-sponsored tournament with a top prize of 500,000 yuan (about $70,220, at $1 = 7.12 yuan). Sixteen players start out in the first round, then eight seeded players join the winners in the second round.

The tournament was a triumph for Korea, which secured three of the semifinal places. The fourth went to a Chinese representative. Japan had three players taking part, but only Ueno Asami picked up a win. In the second round, she beat Zhou Hongyyu 6-dan, one of China’s top players. Results to date are given below. The semifinals are scheduled for November 30. It was interesting to see Wu Yiming, who turns 16 on Nov. 22, again representing her country in an international tournament. In the not too distant future, she might become the world’s top woman player. Also, Hei Jiajia (aka Joanne Missingham) seemed to be in good form, just missing out on a semifinal seat. 

Round One (July 30). Wu Yiming 4-dan (China) (B) beat Nyu Eiko 4-dan (Japan) by 7.5 points; Li Xiaoxi 2-dan (China) (W) beat Nakamura Sumire 2-dan (Japan) by resig.; Hei Jiajia 7-dan (Ch. Taipei) (W) beat Rui Naiwei 9-dan (China) by resig.; Feng Yun 9-dan (North America) (W) beat Dina Burdakova, am. 5-dan, (Russia) by half a point; Zhou Hongyu 6-dan (W) beat Kim Eunji 3-dan (Korea) by 10.5 points; Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan (Japan) (W) beat Virzhinia Shalneva, am. 3-dan, (Russia) by resig.; Lu Yuhua 4-dan (Ch. Taipei) (B) beat Wang Yubo 4-dan (China) by resig.; Cho Seunga 5-dan (Korea) (B) beat Yin Mingming (Stephanie Yin, North America) by resig.

Round Two (July 31). Kim Jaeyoung 7-dan (Korea) (B) beat Wu by 1.5 points; Wang Chenxing 5-dan (China) (W) beat Cho by resig.; Lu Minquan 6-dan (China) (B) beat Suzuki by resig.; Hei (B) beat Yu Zhiying 7-dan (China) by 2.5 points; Lu Yuhua (W) beat Li He 5-dan (China) by half a point; Ueno (B) beat Zhou by resig.; Choi Jeong 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Li by resig.; Oh Yujin 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Feng by resig.

Quarterfinals (August 1). Oh (W) beat Lu Minquan by resig.; Kim (W) beat Hei by half a point; Choi (W) beat Ueno by resig.; Wang (B) beat Lu Yuhua by resig. 

Semifinal pairings (Nov. 30). Oh v. Choi, Kim v. Wang

Iyama starts badly in Chinese A Team League

The first round of the Chinese A Team League was held from August 3 to 11. There are 16 teams in this league; teams are made up of four players, but each team actually has a pool of five or six players to call upon. They announce their team just before a match. In the second round, the top eight teams will vie for supremacy, while the bottom eight will compete to avoid relegation to the B League. Iyama Yuta represented the Zhejiang Zheshang Securities team in Match 5 (the 8th) and Match 7 (the 10th). In the first game, Iyama (B) lost to Dang Yifei 9-dan, who was playing for the Zhengdu Agricultural & Commercial Bank; he resigned after 180 moves. Dang is a top player and won the 21st LG Cup. In the second game, Iyama was paired against Rong Yi of the Shenbo Dragon Flower team. Iyama had white and resigned after 141 moves. Actually, he had the lead for most of the game but made some errors in the latter stage of the game. 

Iyama’s team finished 8th. He is hoping to get a chance to redeem himself in the second round, but first, he has to be picked to play . . .

Tomorrow: Sumire wins 3rd Discovery Cup; Shin Jinseo wins Kuksu Mountains; New record set for youngest player

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50 Years aGO – September 2022

Sunday September 25, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

The month began with the 3rd International Tournament taking place in New York on September 2. Unfortunately, we cannot recover any further details on this fun team event.

On September 3-4 the Hawai’i Ki’in celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a visit from the Great Kitani, his wife, his daughter Reiko, as well as Ishida Yoshio, Takemiya Masaki and Haruyama Isamu. More than 40 were in attendance.

Also this month the Argentine Championship was won by a Mr. Hara, over 100 players participated.

Beginning on September 5-6 the Meijin Title continued. Rin Meijin won Game 3, and Game 4 on September 14-15 putting challenger Fujisawa Shūkō‘s back to the wall. But in Game 5, Shūkō extended the match on September 26-27. (Game records: Game 3, Game 4, Game 5).

On September 9th, Katō Masao defeated defending champion Sakata Eio in the first round of the 20th NHK Championship. (Game record available here.)

Finally, Stuart Dowsey reported extensively on the Japanese Tour of America (the term used advisedly because it included visits to Canada). The month started in New York on September 1 and then went to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Northfield, Edmonton and Seattle (the West Coast swing will be covered in our next column). The tour group consisted of Dowsey, Okubō Ichigen 9d and Nagahara Yoshiaki 6d (who wrote several the early Ishi Press books and attended one U.S. Go Congress). The New York Go Club was located on West 10th St. in the basement of the Marshall Chess Club. Mitsuo Horiguchi was the long standing President of the club which was open daily. Dowsey praises Vice President John Stephenson for various initiatives regarding membership and teaching. More evidence of Stephenson’s efforts are contained in the “Go Digest” pictured, which covered the visit by the two professionals. Brief mentions were made of Robert Ryder’s Bell Lab Go Club, Bill Mann’s Massachusetts Go Association, Walter Reitman‘s work at in Ann Arbor on computers and go, with James Kerwin on his team and Craig Hutchinson teaching go to cadets at West Point. Of particular interest to your correspondent was the visit to Baltimore, where Bob Gross knew of only two other players in town and a few others in Annapolis. But when over 300 people turned out for the two day visit, the pros left behind a thriving Gilbert W. Rosenthal Memorial Go Club, which, at least started out with 70 people turning out to sessions at Johns Hopkins. It seems current President and your author needs to work on increasing membership…

Dowsey reports that activity in Canada was centered on Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton but activity was increasing, from one club 5 years ago to at least 13, and the recent formation of the Canadian Go Association led by first President John Williams. Dowsey estimated the Japanese tour addressed 600 players in Canada.

Overall, the group visited 19 clubs and 17 universities and reached 4,500 people, over half of whom were taught how to play. We would love to hear from anyone who learned the game from this very successful effort.

Rin Kaihō vs. Fujisawa Shūkō in Meijin Game 4

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Photos from GoReview, game records from SmartGoOne

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50 Years aGO – August 1972

Sunday August 28, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

August 4th found Iwamoto Kaoru in London on his European tour. He gave a lecture and scored 9-1 in a simultaneous exhibition.

The European Go Congress carried into the first two weeks of August, in Ensechede, Holland. Iwamoto made an appearance there as well, along with 120 participants from all over Europe, including visitors from the U.S. and Mexico. Jürgen Mattern of Germany was undefeated, and secured his fifth Championship. Germany won the team championship, followed by the host nation.

On August 14, James Davies played T. Miyoshi, a mystery author known as the “Literary Hon’inbo,” in a special televised match. Davies opened on tengen and secured a convincing victory.

The Meijin Title, between Rin Kaihō Meijin and Fujisawa Shūkō 9d began on August 16. Go Seigen is pictured in our photo of the match, which was won convincingly by Shūkō. In the second game, on August 26-27, our photo captures the moment, after a long game and long ko fight, that Shūkō realizes he has lost by one point. As the month closes, the match is tied. (Game records: Game One, Game Two.)

Finally on August 19-20, the Brazil Ki’in celebrated its 25th anniversary, with an incredible 218 players participating.

James Davies plays a televised match

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Photos from Go Review, game records from SmartGo One

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The Power Report: Early August updates

Thursday August 11, 2022

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Photos (l-r): 9th Hollyhock, Ueno (left Rina); 7th Senko Cup Rina, Sumire, Ueno & Nyu at venue; 7th Senko: Nyu wins; 7th Senko Ueno (left) beat Sumire; 47 Gosei Iyama (l) & Ichiriki review; 47 Meijin challenger Shibano; 47 Meijin: last round Shibano (left) vs Hane

Ueno wins first Women’s Hollyhock Cup

In the 9th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup title, Ueno Asami, holder of the Women’s Kisei title, became the challenger to Fujisawa Rina, who had held this title for five years in a row. In the best-of-three title match, Ueno made a good start, winning the opening game, but Fujisawa made a comeback in the second game. Both of these games were played at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Wakamatsu City. In the deciding game, held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, a large ko started early. Fujisawa made a misjudgment in ignoring a strong ko threat by Ueno and ending the ko. That gave Ueno the lead and she hung on to it to the end, so the title changed hands. Details of the games follow.

Game 1 (June 18). Ueno (W) by resig. (218 moves).

Game 2 (June 20). Fujisawa (W) by resig. (146 moves).

Game 3 (June 24). Ueno (W) by resig. (150 moves).

With a first prize of 7,000,000 yen (about $53,000 at $1 = ¥132), the Hollyhock is the second richest of the women’s titles. To review its history, Fujisawa won the first title, O Keii the second, Xie Yimin the third, then Fujisawa the 4th to 8th.

Nyu wins Senko Cup

The number one and number two women players were missing from the final of the 7th Senko Cup, played at the Geihinkan Akekure (Guesthouse Dawn and Dusk) in Omi City, Shiga Prefecture, on July 17. Nakamura Sumire beat Fujisawa Rina in one semifinal and Nyu Eiko beat Ueno Asami in the other (details given below). Neither of the finalists had won this title before. For Sumire, it was a second chance to set a new record for the youngest title winner. Taking black, she played well in the final and set up an overwhelming lead over Nyu, but then she began to play negatively. Nyu fought fiercely and little by little whittled down her lead. In the end, Nyu won by 2.5 points. This is her first title. First prize is ¥8,000,000 (about $60,600).

Semifinals (July 15, same venue as above). Nakamura Sumire 2-dan (W) beat Fujisawa Rina Senko Cup by 1.5 points; Nyu Eiko 4-dan (B) beat Ueno Asami Women’s Hollyhock Cup by resig.

Iyama defends Gosei title

Iyama Yuta’s devastating form against Ichiriki Ryo continues. After rebuffing his challenge 4-0 in the Honinbo title match (see my report of June 22), he has now beaten him 3-0 in the 47th Gosei title match.

The first game was played on the titleholder’s home ground, the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Kita Ward, Osaka City, on June 24. Iyama (W) continued the momentum of the Honinbo match, seizing the initiative through positive play in the opening and maintaining the pressure throughout. Ichiriki resigned after 176 moves. Iyama played a move not predicted by AI, but after he played it the AI rating of White’s position went up. This is quite rare—you could argue that Iyama surpassed AI.

There was a gap of three weeks before the second game (presumably, one or two of the Honinbo games that turned out to be unneeded would have been played in this interval). It was played at the North Country Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on July 16. Iyama (B) staged a carefully calculated sacrifice strategy that led to a whole-board fight. Late in the game, he was subjected to a fierce attack by Ichiriki, but he answered with precision and wrapped up another win. Ichiriki resigned after 201 moves.

The third game was played at the Miyajima Hotel Makoto in the town on Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture on July 27. Iyama (W) took the lead in the fighting in the opening and held on to it without slackening. Ichiriki resigned after White 154. Iyama won the title for the second year in a row and the 8th time overall. First prize is ¥8,000,000 (about $60,600). He also maintained his quadruple crown, with the Honinbo, Meijin, and Oza. At the age of 33, he’s still the top player in Japan, though the Kisei gives Ichiriki the top rank.

Ichiriki was quite disappointed. “All three games ended without my being able to exert my strength,” he commented. “This is my worst performance in a title match.” For Ichiriki, the alternative explanation doesn’t bear thinking about: Iyama may have taken his measure. 

Shibano wins Meijin League

In the final round of the 47th Meijin League, only two players were still in the running: Shibano Toramaru on 6-1 and Ichiriki Ryo on 5-2. The final round was labeled the “August” round in the Japanese league chart, but it was actually played on July 21. Ichiriki did all he could, winning his game, but Shibano also won his final game, so he won the league outright. Actually his game finished first of all the games. An opening sequence that he had researched only the day before appeared in his game with Hane Naoki, so he took the lead immediately. He will reappear in the Meijin title match after a gap of a term (he won the 44th title from Cho U, but lost it to Iyama the following term; Iyama then defended it against Ichiriki last year). League results since my last report follow.

(June 13) Motoki Katsuya 8-dan (W) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by 1.5 points.

(June 16) Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (B) beat Ida Atsushi 8-dan by resig.

(June 20) Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (B) beat Shida Tatsuya 8-dan by 4.5 points.

(June 30) Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan by 1.5 points.

(July 7) Hane Naoki 9-dan (W) beat Ida Atsushi 8-dan by resig.

(July 11) Shibano (B) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resig.

(July 21) Ichiriki (B) beat Kyo by resig.; Yo Seiki 8-dan (W) beat Yamashita by resig.; Shibano (W) beat Hane by resig.; Ida (B) beat Shida by 1.5 points.

Hane, Motoki, and Ida lost their seats. Hane had held his seat for 12 years in a row.

Shibano leads Kisei S League

A key game in the 47th Kisei S League was played on August 4. Shibano beat the previous Kisei, Iyama Yuta, so he kept the sole lead on 3-0. Although he has the advantage of being ranked number one in a league with no play-offs, suffering his second loss makes it very hard for Iyama to recover, though he can still aim at second place, which also secures a seat in the final knock-out. This win will also give Shibano some momentum for his Meijin challenge, which starts at the end of this month. With all players having completed three rounds in the S League, Shibano’s main rival is Kyo Kagen Judan, the only player with just one loss. Recent results are given below.

(June 16) Iyama Yuta Meijin (W) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by 1.5 points.

(July 4) Kyo Kagen Judan (W) beat Takao Shinji 9-dan by resig.

(July 7) Yo Seiki 8-dan (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8-dan by resig. 

(August 4) Shibano (W) beat Iyama Yuta by resig.

Yamashita wins Kisei A League

The seventh and final round of the 47th Kisei A League has yet to be played, but Yamashita Keigo 9-dan has already secured victory. He is on 5-1, and his nearest rival is Son Makoto 7-dan on 4-2. Son plays Yamashita in the final round, but even if he wins, there is no play-off in the league: the higher-ranked player – Yamashita is #2 and Son is #5 – prevails.

The winners of the B1 and B2 Leagues have likewise been decided in the penultimate rounds. Fujita Akihiko 7-dan, who is on 6-0, has won the B1 League. B2 was won by Suzuki Shinji 7-dan, who was also on 6-0. Both these players are two wins ahead of their rivals. Suzuki ended up with 7-0.

Ida to challenge for Tengen

The play-off to decide the challenger for the 48th Tengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on August 4. Taking white, Ida Atsushi 9-dan (aged 28) defeated Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (aged 25) by resig. Ida will make his first challenge for the Tengen title. The titleholder is Seki Kotaro (aged 20). The match will start on October 3.

Sumire’s progress

(June 13) Sumire (W) beat Yo Kaei 8-dan by resig. (Prelimin. B, 48th Meijin).

(June 16) Sumire (W) beat Osawa Narumi by resig. (7th Senko Cup, main section).

(June 20) Sumire (B) lost to Nakamura Hidehito 9-dan by resig.(Prelim. C, 49th Tengen).

(June 23) Sumire (W) beat Takeshita Ryoya 1-dan by 6.5 points (Prelim. C, 71st Oza).

(June 27) Sumire (B) beat Jo Bunen 1-dan by resig.i(Prelim. C, 48th Gosei).

(July 4) Sumire (B) lost to Koyama Kuya 5-dan by 8.5 points (Prelim. B, 48th Meijin).

(July 15) Sumire (W) beat Fujisawa Rina by 1.5 points (7th Senko Cup).

(July 17) Sumire (B) lost to Nyu Eiko 4-dan by 2.5 points (Senko Cup final)

(July 21) Sumire (B) beat Ito Masashi 5-dan by 4.5 points (Prelim. C, 48th Gosei).

(July 25) Sumire (B) beat Ueno Risa 2-dan by resig. (3rd round, main section, 41st Women’s Honinbo).

(July 28) Sumire (W) beat Koda Akiko 4-dan by 1.5 points (Prelim. C, 71st Oza).

(July 30) Sumire lost to Li 2-dan (5th Go Seigen Cup). Sumire’s record for the year was 27-15.

Yamada Kimio wins 1,000 games

When Yamada Kimio 9-dan (W) beat Takahashi Masumi 4-dan by resig. in Prelim. B of the 48th Meijin tournament on June 30, he became the 30th player to reach the benchmark of 1,000 wins. He had 487 losses, for an excellent winning percentage of 67.2%. It took him 33 years two months and his age was 49 years nine months. However, after reaching 999 wins, he lost four games in a row.

Most wins 

1. Ueno Asami, Women’s Hollyhock Cup: 36-10

2. Ichiriki Ryo Kisei: 32-16

3. Nakamura Sumire: 27-15

4. Ida Atsushi 8-dan, Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo: 25-11  

6. Nyu Eiko, Senko Cup: 24-13

7. Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan: 23-8

8. Kato Chie 2-dan: 20-9; Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan: 20-17

10. Otake Yu 6-dan: 19-5; Ueno Risa 2-dan: 19-9; Shibano Toramaru 9-dan: 19-10

13. Hirata Tomoya 7-dan: 18-3; Rin Kanketsu 8-dan, Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan, Ikemoto Ryota 2-dan: 18-7; Kyo Kagen Judan: 18-10

Winning streaks

8: Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan, Sakai Yuki 3-dan

6:  Suzuki Shinji 7-dan, Mito Shuhei 1-dan

5: Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan 

Streaks ended since my last report

9: Sakai Takashi 2-dan, Iyama Yuta Meijin, Hirata Tomoya 7-dan 

7: Inaba Takahiro 4-dan, Mito Shuhei 1-dan

6: Ko Iso 9-dan, Ogata Masaki 9-dan, Suzuki Shinji 7-dan

5: Kuwabara Yoko 6-dan, Otake Yu 6-dan, Mitani Tetsuya 8-dan, Fujii Koki 2-dan, Hoshiai Shiho 3-dan

Promotions

To 9-dan (200 wins): Izumitani Hideo (as of July 1); Ida Atsushi (as of July 26). It’s rare to see two promotions by the cumulative-wins system in the same month. There are now 82 9-dans at the Nihon Ki-in. Izumitani is the son of the late Izumitani Masanori 9-dan. Born in 1969, he came second in the 14th King of the New Stars in 1988. Ida, born in 1994, was promoted to 8-dan when he won the 69th Honinbo League in 2014; he lost the title match 1-4 to Iyama Yuta. In 2015, he won the 53rd Judan title and the 62nd NHK Cup (at 20 years 11 months, he’s still the youngest player to win this title). He has also won the Crown title six years in a row. His win-loss record to date is 346-183. He is married to Mannami Nao 4-dan. 

To 8-dan: Takei Takashi (150 wins, as of July 1)

To 5-dan (70 wins): Ueda Takashi (as of June 21), Furuya Masao (as of June 24)

To 4-dan: Osawa Kenro (50 wins, as of July 5)

To 3-dan: Kibe Natsuki (40 wins, as of July 8)

To 2-dan: Ueno Risa (30 wins, as of June 21)

Marriage between professionals

On July 15, Son Makoto 7-dan (aged 26) and Hoshiai Shiho 3-dan (aged 25) announced that they had registered their marriage on July 7.

Obituaries 

Iwata Tatsuaki

Iwata Tatsuaki 9-dan died of aspiration pheumonia on June 30. He was born in Aichi Prefecture on January 2, 1926. He became a disciple of Kitani Minoru 9-dan and made 1-dan in 1943. He was a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. He reached 9-dan in 1964 and retired in 2011. He won the Crown title nine times and won the top section of the rating tournament in 1963. He won the Central Japan Top Position tournament three times in a row. He played in the Meijin League twice and the Honinbo League seven times. His lifetime record was. 881 wins to 618 losses, with 9 jigo (winning percentage 58.4).

Oto Shozo

Oto Shozo died of cirrhosis of the liver on July 26. He was born in Tokyo on Sept. 4, 1948. He became a disciple of Kitani Minoru 9-dan and qualified as 1-dan in 1971. He reached 5-dan in 1981; after retiring in 2013, he was promoted to 6-dan. He was posthumously promoted to 7-dan. 

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50 Years aGO – June 1972

Sunday June 26, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

The month began with a tour group visit by 25 Japanese amateur players to London where an informal match was held at Imperial College on June 1. The group was led by Itō Tomoe, who was then 4d. Itō was a disciple of Kita Fumiko, and by the time of the tour, she had won the Women’s Championship seven times, including five consecutive victories. The British Go Journal reported that the locals won most of their games, but “Mrs. Itō…won all of her games.” The photo attached was taken when the tour group visited Köln, Germany.

The big story continued to be the Hon’inbo title rematch between Ishida Hon’inbo and Rin Meijin. The month began with the challenger leading 2-1. On June 7 and 8, Ishida evened the score with a comeback win in Game 4. However, we see a confident Rin after going up 3-2 on June 16 and 17. Finally, we see Ishida concentrating from over the challenger’s shoulder as he survived kadoban and evened the series at 3-3 on June 29 and 30. (Game records: Game Four, Game Five, Game Six).

On the weekend of June 23-24, John Diamond 4d defeated Tony Goddard 4d in straight games for the British Championship.

Rin Kaihō after winning Hon'inbo Game 5

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Photos from Go Review, game records from SmartGoOne

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The Power Report: June news updates

Wednesday June 22, 2022

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Photos (l-r): 1st Hoban Fujisawa Rina; 1st Hoban Wu Yiming; 9Globis Fukuoka 2nd; 9Globis Wang the winner; 9th Hollyhock Uenl (left) beats Okuda; 27LG Shibano best 8; 77honinbo2 Ichiriki Iyama rugby jerseys; 77honinbo2 playing room view of ground; 77honinbo3 Iyama; 77honinbo4 Iyama (left) Cho Chikun Ichiriki; 77honinbo4 Kyushu Nat Museum; Meijin-Kisei Leagues.

Iyama sets new record in Honinbo title

After Ichiriki Ryo’s success in taking the top title from Iyama Yuta in this year’s Kisei title match, most fans probably installed him as the favorite in the 77th Honinbo title match, but that’s not how things worked out. Iyama took a full measure of revenge on his closest rival.

As described in my report of May 21, Iyama took the first game through tenacious play in the late middle game and endgame. This pattern continued in the other games of the best-of-seven.

The second game was played in the Special Room at the Kumagaya Rugby Ground in Kumagaya City, Saitama Prefecture, on May 24 and 25. The room is on the fourth floor of the stadium and offers a view of the playing field. Presumably the venue was chosen by Kumagaya City, which was a supporting sponsor for this game. (Recently, it seems to have become usual for the cities etc. where games are staged to become supporting sponsors just for that game. This gains them publicity and presumably relieves the financial burden on the main sponsors of the tournament.) Kumagaya is a mecca for Japanese rugby fans, and some games in the 2019 Rugy World Cup, which Japan hosted, were played there. The players got into the spirit of things by posing in rugby jerseys holding on to footballs, though they switched back to the regulations suits to play the game.

As indicated above, Ichiriki made another good start, but Iyama (white) refused to give up. He played aggressively, complicating the position and eliciting an error from Ichiriki. Once he had upset his lead, Iyama played solidly, giving Ichiriki no chance to get back into the game.

The third game was played at the Fujii residence in Yamada Hot Spring in Nagano Prefecture on June 1 and 2. Once again, Ichiriki (W) took the lead in the opening and early middle game, but Iyama fought very strongly in the latter part of the game (meaning, in this case, from about move 121 on). He sacrificed a group in a way that surprised the professionals following the game on the spot, but that was part of a far-seeing whole-board strategy. Under pressure, Ichiriki played some sub-optimal moves that let Iyama dominate the game. Not only did he upset Ichiriki’s lead, he gradually increased his own lead. When Ichiriki resigned, after Black 259, he was ten points or more behind on the board. If you have access to a game record, check out Black 179, an unlikely-looking tesuji that Ichiriki didn’t see. It enabled Iyama to maximize his territory in a corner fight.

The fourth game was played at the Kyushu National Museum in Dazaifu City, Kyushu, on June 11 and 12. This turned out to be the most spectacular game of the series. Early in the game, there was a spectacular trade, in which Ichiriki (black) sacrificed a group in exchange for capturing some white stones. However, the result was a little advantageous for Iyama. Ichiriki subsequently played some dubious moves, letting Iyama expand his lead. Ichiriki resigned after 196 moves.

   The referee for this game was Cho Chikun, so he had a close-up view as Iyama broke his record by scoring his 11th successive victory in a top-seven title. It was also Iyama 68th title (55 of them top-seven titles), so he is drawing closer and closer to Cho’s record of 75 (42).

Iyama’s comment: “After the new year started, there was a difficult period for me when I couldn’t get good results. Things were tough for me, so I’m happy I got a good result this time. . . . As a go fan watching Cho win ten in a row, I never dreamed I could challenge his record. It’s a great honor.”

Cho’s comment: “It felt good when we were lined up together on ten-in-a-row, but now that he’s gone past me, I feel bad. Now it’s happened, I want him to win about 20 in a row. He defended with straight wins, but in this series Ichiriki’s content was better. He should be able to keep competing with confidence.”

There was no quote from Ichiriki in the newspaper. First prize is 28,000,000 yen (about $208,955, at $1=¥134). Below is a list of the top successive-title records.

11: Iyama Honinbo (2012~22)

10: Cho Chikun Honinbo (1989~98)

9: Iyama Kisei (2013~21)

9: Takagawa Kaku Honinbo (1952~60) 

8: Kobayashi Koichi Kisei (1986~93)

8: Kato Masao Oza (1982~8

Ueno to challenge for Hollyhock Cup

The semifinals and final of the 9th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup were held at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 21 and 22. In the semifinals (May 21), Ueno Asami (B) beat Kibe Natsuki 2-dan by resignation, and Oku Aya 4-dan (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan, also by resignation. The next day, Ueno (B) beat Okuda by resignation and earned the right to challenge Fujisawa Rina for the title. Fujisawa has held this title for five years in a row and six times overall. Ueno made two unsuccessful challenges, for the 6th and 8th Cup; she lost 0-2 each time, so she will be looking for revenge.

Wu of China dominates 1st Hoban Cup

The Hoban Cup Seoul Newspaper Women’s Baduk Championship 2022 is a new international tournament run along the same lines as the Nong Shim Cup, with the difference that it is split into just two rounds, not three. The first round was dominated by the 15-year-old Wu Yiming 3-dan of China, who won five games in a row. According to Chinese rules for international tournaments, this earned her a promotion to 4-dan. The second round is scheduled for October.

Game 1 (May 22). Wu Yiming 3-dan (China) (W) beat Nakamura Sumire 2-dan (Japan) by resig.

Game 2 (May 23). Wu (W) (B) beat Lee Suljoo 1-dan (Korea) by resig.

Game 3 (May 24). Wu (B) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan (Japan) by 11.5 points.

Game 4 (May 25). Wu (B) beat Heo Seohyun 3-dan (Korea) by resig.

Game 5 (May 26). Wu (B) beat Xie Yimin 7-dan (Japan) by resig.

Game 6 (May 27). Kim Jaeyeong 7-dan (Korea) (W) beat Wu 4-dan by resig.

Game 7 (May 28). Fujisawa Rina 5-dan (Japan) (B) beat Kim by resig.

LG Cup: Shibano makes best eight

The opening rounds of the 27th LG Cup, an international tournament sponsored by the LG Corporation in Korea, were held on the net from May 30 to June 1. Twenty-four players took part, with 16 starting out in the first round and eight being seeded into the second round. As the host country, Korea had 13 players; China had seven, Japan three, and Chinese Taipei one. The Japanese participants were Shibano Toramaru and Yo Seiki, who were seeded, and Sada Atsushi, who won the Japanese qualifying tournament. Shibano, who was seeded into the second round, was the only Japanese player to make the best eight.

The time allowance is three hours, followed by 40-second byo-yomi x 5. Results follow (for most of the games, I don’t have full details).

(Round 1, May 29). Shin Minjun 9-dan (Korea) beat Shi Yue 9-dan (China); Zhao Chenyu beat Park Geunho 6-dan (Korea); Yo Seiki (Yu Zhengqi) 8-dan (Japan) (B) beat Park Hamin 9-dan (Korea) by resig.; Kim Jiseok 9-dan (Korea) beat Gu Jihao 9-dan (China); Park Jinseol 6-dan (Korea) (B) beat Sada Atsushi 7-dan (Japan) by resig.

(Round 1, May 30) Wang Yuanjun 9-dan (Ch. Taipei) beat Weon Seongjin 9-dan (Korea); Kang Dongyun 9-dan (Korea) beat Cho Hanseung 9-dan (Korea); Kim Myeonghoon 9-dan (Korea) beat Seol Hyunjun 7-dan (Korea).

Round 2 (31 May). Mi Yuting 9-dan (China) beat Cho; Shin Jinseo 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Yo by resig.); Ke Jie 9-dan (China) beat Shin Minjun; Ding Hao 9-dan (China) beat Kim; Yang Dingxin 9-dan (China) beat Park. 

(Round 2, June 1). Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (Japan) (W) beat Wang by resig.; Kang beat Park Junghwan 9-dan (Korea); Kim beat Byun Sangil 9-dan (Korea).

Semifinal (Nov. 24) pairings: Ke v. Kang, Mi v. Shin Jinseo, Ding vs. Kim, Shibano v. Yang.

Globis Cup

The 9th Globis Cup was held in the same week at the LG Cup, so suddenly there was a lot of activity in international go. Unfortunately, this tournament, too, had to be held on the net. Founded in 2014, it is a tournament for players under 20. It is sponsored by the Globis Graduate School of Business. The tournament is run by the NHK format: 30 seconds per move, with ten minutes of thinking time to be used in one-minute units. First prize is 1,500,000 yen; second prize is 250,000 yen, and third prize is 100,000 yen. The tournament system is complicated: the 16 participants are split up in four mini-knockout tournaments, with the top four proceeding to the main tournament. However, there is also a losers’ tournament in which four more players earn seats in the main tournament. Thanks to this second chance, Kevin Yang of North American, who is listed as amateur 7-dan, won a seat in the main tournament. The above games were all played on June 4. Results in the main tournament, held on June 5, follow.

(Quarterfinals) Zhou Hongyu 6-dan (China) beat Lai Junfu (Ch.Taipei); Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan (Japan) beat Kevin Yang; Wang Xinghao 7-dan (China) beat Tsuji Shigehito 3-dan (Japan); Tu Xiaoyu 7-dan (China) beat Lee Yeon 4-dan (Korea).

(Semifinals) Fukuoka beat Zhou; Wang beat Tu.

(Final) Wang (W) beat Fukuoka by resig.

(Play-off for 3rd place) Tu beat Zhou.

Wang Xinghao also won this tournament last year, beating Tu Xiaoyu in the final. 

Fujisawa fails to reach best four in Tengen

  Fujisawa Rina’s excellent run in the 48th Tengen tournament finally came to an end on June 2. Playing white, she lost by resignation to Otake Yu 6-dan. If she had won, she would have been the first woman to make the best four in a top-seven title. Actually, Fujisawa took the lead in the opening, but Otake was able to pull off an upset.

Shibano leads in 47th Meijin League

Shibano Toramaru, former Meijin, holds the sole lead on 4-1, followed by Ichiriki Ryo Kisei and Shida Tatsuya 8-dan on 4-2 and Kyo Kagen Judan on 3-2. Recent results follow.

(May 19) Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 9-dan by resig.

(June 2) Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (W) beat Hane Naoki 9-dan by resig.

(June 9) Shida Tatsuya 8-dan (B) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by 1.5 points

Kisei S League

Two games in the second round have been played so far. On June 2 Murakawa Daisuke 9-dan (W) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resignation, and on June 6 Shibano (B) beat Takao Shinji 9-dan by resig. On 2-0, Shibano Toramaru is the only undefeated player. 

Sumire reaches 100 wins

Scoring one’s 100th win is not usually considered a significant landmark, but things are different if the player concerned is only 13 years old. The Yomiuri reported on June 7 that Nakamura Sumire 2-dan had recorded her 100th win in a game played at the Nihon Ki-in on the previous day. Taking white, she beat Kato Keiko 6-dan by resignation in the second round of the main section of the 41st Women’s Honinbo tournament. At 13 years three months, she set yet another youth record. The previous record of 15 years 11 months was set by Cho Chikun, Honorary Meijin. At a press conference after the game, Sumire commented: “I’m not very aware of my number of wins. It was like: really?” When a reporter commented that she had done it in three years two months as a pro, she smiled. “I don’t really know, but that seems fast.” To become the challenger, she needs three more wins. Sumire has played only two games since my last report, one of them the game reported here. For the other, see the report on the Hoban Cup above.

Most wins (as of June 10)

The latest Go Weekly gave only the top two places, so positions 3 to 10 are my best guess. There are five women in the top ten.

1. Ueno Asami: 27-5

2. Ichiriki Ryo Kisei: 26-10

3. Nyu Eiko 4-dan: 20-10

4. Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan: 19-4; Ida Atsushi 8-dan: 19-6; Nakamura Sumire 2-dan: 19-10

7. Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo: 18-7

8. Kyo Kagen Judan: 17-6

9. Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan: 16-14

10. Ikemoto Ryota 2-dan: 15-6 

Most successive wins

10: Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan

6: Yo Kaei 8-dan, Ueno Risa 1-dan (younger sister of Ueno Asami)

5: So Yokoku 9-dan, Hirata Tomoya 7-dan, Mitani Tetsuya 8-dan, Hirata Tomoya 7-dan, Hirose Yuichi 6-dan, Sakai Takashi 2-dan, Kawahara Yu 1-dan

Recently ended streaks

13: Koike Yoshihiro 

6: Fujisawa Rina

5: O Rissei 9-dan, Son Makoto 7-dan, Nishioka Masao, Fujisawa Rina, Konishi Yoshiakira 1-dan, Yamashita Keigo 9-dan, Shibano Toramaru 9-dan

Correction

There was some funny arithmetic in my article on Ishida Yoshio’s government decoration (ejournal, May 23). Total games played by Ishida should have read 1870. His record, updated to June 7, is: 1146 wins, 725 losses, 1 no-result, total 1872 games. Thanks to Peter St. John for pointing out my mistake.

NOTE: John Power sent in these reports on June 13 but publication was delayed due to EJ Managing Editor being on travel; our apologies for the delay.  

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50 years aGO – May 1972

Thursday May 26, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka with Patrick Bannister

The Hon’inbo Title, held by Ishida Yoshio, was the big topic of the month. The Hon’inbo League ended in a tie between Rin Meijin and the veteran Sakata Eio, each with scores of 5-2. A playoff was held on May 3 and 4 and Rin was victorious, setting up a rematch of last year’s event. The first two games (on May 8 to 9 and May 17 to 18) resulted in wins for black, the first game to Ishida, the second to Rin. But in the third game, Rin scored a win with white on May 25 to 26 to take the lead in the best of seven contest. (Game records: playoff game, Game 1, Game 2, Game 3.)

Meanwhile, as the month closes, Fujisawa Shūkō remains unbeaten at 4-0 in the Meijin League, with Ōtake Hideo trailing him at 4-1.

Finally we share an amazing picture of two of the people most responsible for the spread of go in the world. Edward Lasker visited the Nihon Ki’in on May 9 and caught up with Iwamoto Kaoru. Lasker, who founded the New York Go Club which gave birth to the American Go Association, can be justly named the father of go in the United States. His book Go and Gomoku was a very early effort, and far more influential than its few predecessors. Iwamoto, who played in the famous “atom bomb game,” dedicated his life and his resources to spreading go throughout the world, funding go centers in North and South America as well as Europe.

Hon'inbo Title Game 1 on 9 May 1972

Image 1 of 3

Photos courtesy of Go Review, game records from SmartGo

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The Power Report: Ichiriki wins 1st New Ryusei; Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei; Meijin & Kisei S League reports; Sumire’s progress; Most wins, Most successive wins, Recently ended streaks & promotion; Decorations for Iyama and Ishida

Monday May 23, 2022

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki wins 1st New Ryusei
This is a new tournament with an unfamiliar (to me) time system known as Fischer Time, after its inventor the late Bobby Fischer, a world chess champion. In the format used in this tournament, players have a time allowance of one minute, but receive an extra five seconds every time they play a move. First prize is 2,000,000 yen (about $15,500). It is separate from the existing Ryusei title, which is now in its 31st term.
The tournament was telecast on the Igo Shogi channel. It culminated in a best-of-three final, in which Ichiriki Ryo defeated Kyo Kagen 2-0. The second game was telecast on May 7. The results in the final, with the dates of actual play, follow.
Game 1 (Jan. 29). Ichiriki (W) by 22.5 points.
Game 2 (Feb. 5). Ichiriki (B) by resig.

Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei
The play-off to decide the challenger for the 47th Gosei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on May 16. Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (B) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by resignation after 219 moves. Ichiriki gets a return match with Iyama Yuta, who took the title from him last year. This will be the third title clash this year between these two. The match starts on June 24. Yo has now lost two play-offs in a row to Ichiriki.

47th Meijin League
After five rounds, Shibano Toramaru, former Meijin, holds the sole lead on 4-1, but there are three players on 3-2. Of these, his main rival will probably be Ichiriki Ryo, who has the advantage of being ranked number one in the league. To counterbalance that, Shibano has won their individual encounter. Results since my last report follow.
(March 26) Shibano Toramaru (B) beat Shida Tatsuya 8-dan by resig.
(April 7) Motoki Katsuya 8-dan (B) beat Shibano by resig.
(April 11) Kyo Kagen Judan (W) beat Shida Tatsuya 8-dan by half a point.
(April 14) Ida Atsushi 8-dan (W) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by resig.
(April 21) Ichiriki (B) beat Yamashita by resig.
(May 2) Shibano (B) beat Yo by resig.
(May 5) Shida (W) beat Hane by resig.

Kisei S League
The 47th Kisei S League got off to a start on April 28. Paying in his first league since the 37th tournament, Iyama Yuta got off to a bad start. Taking black, Takao Shinji 9-dan beat him by resig. This is a short league, with only five rounds, so the other players in the league will be encouraged by Iyama’s initial setback. Other results in the first round follow.
(May 9) Kyo Kagen Judan (W) beat Yo Seiki 8-dran by resig.
(May 12) Shibano Toramaru (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 9-dan by resig.

Sumire’s progress
Sumire may have suffered a setback in her first title challenge, but overall she is having another good year. As of May 17, her results are 18-9, giving her an excellent winning percentage, and she is again near the top in the most-wins list (see article below). Her cumulative record as a pro is 99 wins to 51 losses (exactly 66%, which is in line with her results this year).
(March 24) Sumire beat Mukai Chiaki (see Women’s Meijin item above)
(March 26) Sumire (W) lost to Kubo Hideo 7-dan by resig. (Prelim. A, Agon 29th Kiriyama Cup).
(March 29) Sumire beat Jo Bun’en 1-dan and Takeshita Ryoya 1-dan (3rd Discovery Cup).
(March 31) Sumire (W) beat Kibe Natsuki 2-dan by resig. (prelim., 41st Women’s Honinbo).
(April 4) Sumire (W) beat Tsuji Hana 2-dan by half a point (Prelim., 7th Senko Cup).
(April 8) Sumire lost to Fujisawa (International Senko Cup – see article aabove)
(April 14 & 16) Sumire lost 0-2 in the Women’s Meijin title match—see above.
(April 18) Sumire lost to Fujii Koki 1-dan (9th Globis Cup). At this point, she had lost four games in a row.
(April 25) Sumire (B) beat Hoshiai Shiho 3-dan by resig. (prelim., 7th Senko Cup). This win secured Sumire a seat in the main tournament. 
(April 28) Sumire (W) beat Yamada Shinji 6-dan by 3.5 (Prelim. C, 48th Meijin).
(May 2). Sumire (B) lost to Kono Rin 9-dan by 6.5. (Prelim. A, 78th Honinbo).
(May 5) Sumire (W) beat Omori Ran 1-dan by resig. (round 1, main tournament, 41st Women’s Honinbo).
(May 12) Sumire (B) beat Takao Mari 1-dan by resig. (round 1, main section, 7th Senko Cup).

Most wins
There are six women in the top ten in this list, the most that I can remember. It’s generally agreed that the current top group of women players is the strongest ever. On top of that, the increase in the number of women’s tournaments gives them plenty of competition and, of course, chances to improve their win records. (Results are as of May 17.)
1. Ueno Asami Women’s Kisei: 22-4; Ichiriki Ryo Kisei: 22-8
3. Nakamura Sumire 2-dan, Nyu Eiko 4-dan: both 18-9
5. Kyo Kagen Judan: 17-4; Ida Atsushi 8-dan: 17-5
7. Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo: 15-5
8. Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan: 14-2; Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan: 14-12
10. Mukai Chiaki 5-dan: 13-12

Most successive wins
10: Koike Yoshihiro
7: Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan
5: O Rissei 9-dan, Son Makoto 7-dan, Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo, Konishi Yoshiakira 1-dan

Recently ended streaks
11: Ueno Asami Women’s Kisei
10: Ichiriki Ryo Kisei
8: Fujita Akihiko 7-dan
7: Yokotsuka Riki,
6: Otake Yu 6-dan, Byan Wonkei 3-dan

Promotion
To 4-dan: Kikkawa Hajime (30 wins, as of March 29)

Decorations for Iyama and Ishida
Two go-players were awarded decorations by the government in the spring honors list. These awards honor persons who have made outstanding contributions in their own fields and, by extension, to Japanese society and culture. The players were Iyama Yuta and Ishida Yoshio. Ishida has won 24 titles and his main achievement was to set an unbroken youth record by winning the Honinbo title at the age of 22. He held this title for five years, earning him the title of 24th Honinbo Shuho. He is now 73 and is still an active player. He is also a popular teacher and commentator. In 2016, he was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon; this time he received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette. At a press conference, he said that his targets as a player are to reach 1200 wins and to play 2000 official games. He is optimistic about reaching the first target, but is not so sanguine about the latter. As of May 17, his record was 1144 wins, 725 losses, 1 no-result, for a total of 1700 games.

Iyama Yuta, holder of the Meijin, Honinbo, Oza, and Gosei titles, was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon. At 32, he is the youngest go player to have received an award. At a press conference, he referred to how arduous professional go was, the constant pressure from his rivals, especially the new generation, the consequent need to keep developing, and the importance of studying AI. He also commented that the joy from achieving a successful result was only momentary and that not only was the summit of go not visible, but that one didn’t even know where it was. On the plus side, he cited the profundity and limitless fascination of the game. Twenty-nine go players have received awards, eight of them more than once.

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The Power Report: Kyo wins Teikei New Stars; Kyo defends Judan; Ueno wins 4th international Senko Cup; Fujisawa reaches best eight in Tengen

Sunday May 22, 2022

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Teikei Cup Shibano (left) & Kyo

Kyo wins Teikei New Stars
The second game of the 1st Teikei New Stars title match was held in the Ryusei Studio at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on April 2. Taking white, Kyo Kagen beat Shibano Toramaru by resignation after 238 moves. Kyo took the lead in the opening. Things became perilous when Shibano made a deep invasion, but Kyo managed to hang on to his lead. This was his second win, so he won the inaugural title. First prize is 10,000,000 yen (about $77,500).

Kyo defends Judan
The third game of the Daiwa House Cup 60th Judan title match was held at the ANA Holiday Inn Resort Shinano Omachi Kuroyon in Omachi City, Nagano Prefecture, on April 7. Taking black, Kyo Kagen Judan (photo) outplayed Yo Seiki 8-dan, the challenger, in the middle game and secured a resignation after 205 moves. This was Kyo’s third win, so he defended his title. First prize is 7,000,000 yen. This is Kyo’s sixth title.

Ueno wins 4th international Senko Cup
The Senko Cup World Go Strongest Woman Player tournament was held on the Net from April 8 to 10. In net tournaments, the venue for Japanese players is usually the Nihon Ki-in, but in this tournament they play at the Hotel Kaie in Koto Ward, which is one of the sponsors of the tournament. Ueno Asami won three games straight and secured her first victory in an international tournament. This was, in fact, the first victory by a Japanese woman in an international tournament. Ueno beat Yu Zhiying of China, winner of the first three Senko Cups, in the first round and her fellow Japanese representative Xie Yimin helped her out by beating Cho Jeong, the world’s top-rated woman player, also in the first round. Second place was taken by Lu Yuhua 4-dan of Chinese Taipei. First prize is 5,000,000 yen.

Round 1 (April 8). Fujisawa Rina 5-dan (Japan) (W) beat Nakamura Sumire 2-dan (Japan) by 2.5 points; Ueno Asami 4-dan (Japan) (W) beat Yu Zhiying 7-dan (China) by resig.; Lu Yuhua 3-dan (Chinese Taipei) (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan (Japan) by resig.; Xie Yimin 7-dan (Japan) beat Choi Jeong 9-dan (Korea) by resig.
Round 2 (April 9). Ueno (W) beat Fujisawa by resig.; Lu (B) beat Xie by resig.
Round 3 (April 10). Ueno (B) beat Lu by resig.
Playoff for 3rd place (April 10). Fujisawa (B) beat Xie by resig.

Fujisawa reaches best eight in Tengen
On April 4, Fujisawa Rina (W) beat Cho Riyu 8-dan by resignation in the main section the 48th Tengen tournament. This earned her a seat in the quarterfinals. This is only the second time a woman player has made the best-eight in a top-seven tournament. The first player to do so was the same Fujisawa – in last year’s Judan tournament. Incidentally, in the first round of the main section, Fujisawa beats Cho Chikun, Hon. Meijin.

Tomorrow: Ichiriki wins 1st New Ryusei; Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei; Meijin & Kisei S League reports; Sumire’s progress; Most wins, Most successive wins, Recently ended streaks & promotion

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The Power Report: Ichiriki challenging for Honinbo title, Iyama makes good start; Nakamura Sumire makes first challenge, Fujisawa defends Women’s Meijin

Saturday May 21, 2022

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki (right) becomes challenger in Honinbo

Ichiriki challenging for Honinbo title, Iyama makes good start
All the games in the final round of the 77th Honinbo League were played on March 31. Yo Seiki had held the lead all the way in the league, including the sole lead from the third round on, but he slipped up in the final round, coming out on the wrong side of a half-pointer. Ichiriki, who had been in the sole second place from the fourth round on, won his game, so he finally caught up with Yo. In the play-off, Ichiriki was victorious, enabling him to make his first challenge for the Honinbo title. This is also his second successive challenge to Iyama Yuta in a best-of-seven. If Yo had won, he would have been the first Honinbo challenger from the Kansai Ki-in for 60 years. Actually, Shibano, who beat him in the final round, has been his nemesis, and he has won only one of 13 games with him. Results since my last report follow.
(March 26) Ichiriki (B) beat Hane Naoki by resig.
(March 31) Ichiriki (B) beat Sada Atsushi 7-dan by resig.
Kyo Kagen Judan (W) beat Hane Naoki by resig.
Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (B) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by half a point.
Motoki Katsuya 8-dan (B) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi by resig.
Play-off to decide the challenger (April 4). Ichiriki (W) beat Yo by resig.

The title match has started. Iyama is aiming at setting a new record by winning a big-three title 11 years in a row. Ichiriki is seeking what would be only his third victory in his tenth title match with Iyama. His record versus Iyama before the match began was 21 wins to 33 losses, which actually represents a recovery by Ichiriki. From late 2016 to early 2018, he suffered 13 successive losses to Iyama, at which point his record was 3-15.

Iyama starts with a narrow win
The first game in the best-of-seven was played in the Kinkeikaku (Golden Valley Pavillion) in the Oyama Shrine, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on May 10 and 11. To review the game conditions: the time allowance is eight hours per player and the final ten minutes are used for byo-yomi.

Iyama drew black in the nigiri. Because of a number of ko fights, the game was the longest in a Honinbo title match: 357 moves. It finished at 9:34 p.m. on the second day, and Iyama won by half a point. From start to finish, the game was marked by relentless fighting. In the early part of the game, Ichiriki seemed to have an edge, but in the latter part Iyama played a clever move that enable him to manipulate the multiple ko fights to his advantage. More than half the game was fought with both players in the final minute of byo-yomi.

The second game will be played on May 24 and 25.

Sumire challenges

Nakamura Sumire makes first challenge, Fujisawa defends Women’s Meijin
As mentioned in my previous report (March 30), Sumire finished the 33rd Women’s Meijin League with the sole lead of 5-1 on March 24. However, if Xie Yimin 7-dan won her final game, she would catch up and force a play-off. That game was played on March 28. Ueno Asami helped her out by beating Xie; taking black, she won by resig., so Sumire became the challenger.

No one will be surprised to hear that Sumire set yet another record. Previously, the youngest challenger for a women’s title was Fujisawa Rina, who was 16 when she challenged for the 33rd Women’s Honinbo. Sumire was 13 years one month when the Women’s Meijin title match started, so she lowered the record by nearly three years.

Other league results since my previous report follow.
(March 24) Sumire (B) beat Mukai Chiaki 6-dan by half a point.
(April 4) Ueno Asami Women’s Kisei (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan by resig.

The title match, the Hakata Kamachi Cup 33rd Women’s Meijin Best-of-Three, to give it its full name, is sponsored by what seems to be a related group of organizations, namely,  the Kyoju-no-kai (an incorporated body that runs a hospital), the Total Medical Service Inc., and Medical Tender Inc.

In the title match, Sumire fell short. In the first game, played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on April 14, she drew black in the nigiri. She fought strongly, but Fujisawa took the lead in the middle game. However, she made a blunder that let Sumire catch up. The game became very close, but Sumire also made a mistake. Fujisawa outplayed Sumire in the endgame and steadily expanded her lead. The game became even on the board, so Sumire resigned after move 248.

Fujisawa Rina

The second game was played at the same venue on April 16. Playing with black, Fujisawa dominated the game and held the lead throughout. Sumire resigned after 203 moves. Fujisawa won this title for her fifth year in a row, so she qualified for the title of Honorary Women’s Meijin. First prize is worth 7,000,000 yen (about $54,200 at $1 = 129 yen). This is her 21st title.

Despite her loss, Sumire can be proud of beating a high-level field in the league and of setting a record for challenging at the age of 13. One of her ambitions is to win a title while in middle school, so she still has almost two years to reach this goal.

Tomorrow: Kyo wins Teikei New Stars; Kyo defends Judan; Ueno wins 4th international Senko Cup; Fujisawa reaches best eight in Tengen.

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